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Tom Jacobs makes five picks in the RBC Canadian Open First Round Leader Market this week.
ANALYSIS

2024 RBC Canadian Open First Round Leader Picks and Predictions: Back Hubbard, Kuchar in Canada

The PGA Tour heads back to Hamilton Golf and Country Club for the 2024 RBC Canadian Open.

Rory McIlroy returns to an event he was won 2 out of the 3 times he has played in it, and a course he won at by 7 shots in 2019. He got to -22 that week, but he wasn't the first round leader, that was Keegan Bradley, who opened with a 63 (-7) to kick off his week.

McIlroy is understandably the favorite in both the outright and the first round leader market, but can we get a shock winner in this market again this week?

Since the 2017 renewal of this event, the shortest-priced first round leader has been 33-1 and the longest has been 200-1, so we have plenty of room to operate in. This event does move courses constantly, but Bradley was also a 60-1 shot in this market when he led here in 2019, so there is precedent for another big-priced first round leader this week.

Let's dive into recent renewals of the Canadian Open to see if any patterns have emerged in this tournament, despite the course rotation.

Former RBC Canadian Open First Round Leaders

Here are the five most recent first round leaders at the RBC Canadian Open. This is an event that wasn't held in either 2020 or 2021 due to COVID, so we go back a few years on this list, which means we include the 2019 renewal here at Hamilton. I have highlighted any efforts at Hamilton to give an insight into this week.

2023 - Corey Conners (7:55 am), Chesson Hadley (8:39 am), Justin Lower (7:11 am), Aaron Rai (7:11 am) - 67

2022 - Wyndham Clark (8:08 am) - 63

2019 - Keegan Bradley (8:00 am #1 tee) - 63

2018 - Robert Garrigus (7;20 am) - 63

2017 - Hudson Swafford (8:00 am), Brandon Hagy (9:10 am), Matt Every (1:05 pm), Kevin Chappell (1:05 pm), Ollie Schiederjans (1:45 pm) - 65

Keegan Bradley led here with a 63 in 2019, and that was the second of three straight 63s to lead in this event after round 1. This suggests 63 might be the score to beat on Day 1.

With the course in mind, let's also look at the 2012 and 2006 renewals held at this golf course.

2012 - Scott Piercy (1:10 pm #10 tee) - 62

2006 - Jim Furyk and Justin Rose - 63

History at this event alone suggests we should look for a player to shoot 63 on Friday, but the course figures also back that up further.

2024 RBC Canadian Open First Round Leader Trends

Former First Round Lead a Pointer: Every player that has led or co-led here after round 1 since 2019, has previously held a First Round lead as a professional. Brandon Hagy held a first round lead on the Canadian Tour before co-leading here, every other player has already held a FRL on the PGA Tour

Weather Forecast for the RBC Canadian Open

The weather looks reasonasbly consistent, although if you were to favour either wave in particular, you might want to pick the afternoon, given the wind speeds and gusts die down then.

RBC Canadian Open Weather

Who are the Fasters Starters in the Field This Year?

Here are the 5 fastest starters in the field based on their Round 1 Scoring Average during the 2024 PGA Tour season.

  • Alex Noren (2nd Overall in 2024 - Scoring Average 68:00 - Low Opening Round - 62 (American Express)
  • Maverick McNealy (7th overall in 2024 – Scoring Average 68.85) – Low Opening Round – 65 (Phoenix Open)
  • Rico Hoey (8th overall in 2024 - Scoring Average 68.92) - Low Opening Round - 63 (American Express)
  • Rory McIlroy (9th overall in 2024) - Scoring Average 69.00) - Low Opening Round - 65 (Players Championship)
  • Zach Johnson (9th overall in 2024) - Scoring Average 69.00) - Low Opening Round - 62 (American Express)

What Score is Required to Lead After Round 1?

63 or better has been needed, to lead at this course, after round 1. That includes the 63 shot by Jim Furyk and Justin Rose in 2006, the 62 from Scott Piercy in 2012 and the 63 from Keegan Bradley to get things underway in 2019.

A player will need to shoot 63 here to contend for the first round lead based on history at this course, and past renewals of this event held at other courses.

The Favorites in the RBC Canadian Open First Round Leader Market This Week

Here are the favorites in the First Round Leader market at the 2024 RBC Canadian Open.

  • Rory McIlroy +1400
  • Tommy Fleetwood +3500
  • Alex Noren +4000
  • Corey Conners +4000
  • Sahith Theegala +4000
  • Shane Lowry +4000

None of these players at 40-1 and shorter made my final list this week, but almost all of them had to be closely considered.

2024 RBC Canadian Open First Round Leader Picks

Here are my First Round Leader selections for the 2024 RBC Canadian Open.

Mackenzie Hughes +5000 (FanDuel)

Mackenzie Hughes has played some brillant golf in 2024, even beyond the results that stand out on the page. He has generally shot a low round most weeks in which the course and set up allowed in 2024 and that should be the case here.

Hughes has finished 32nd, 8th, 14th and 28th in recent Candian Open's and while he has evidently struggled to cope with the home-fan pressure for four days, he can certainly get things underway quickly.

When he teed it up here in 2019, he opened with two rounds of 66, and he opened with the same score at the Heritage recently, a course comp I like. Another course I like that provides crossover is TPC River Highlands, the host of the Travelers Championship. Hughes has opened with a 64 and a 60 in recent Travelers Championships, both times ending up with the first round lead.

He has been streaky all season, and it is his volatile nature that actually appeals to me.

Mark Hubbard +8000 (BetMGM)

Mark Hubbard is making his 6th Canadian Open start this week, with his 6th place finish 12 months a clear sign that he might enjoy this test.

One thing that really caught my eye when digging into his form in the Canadian Open, was Hubbard's propensity to start fast. In his last three Canadian Open's he has opened with two 67s and a 68. Last year he opened with a 68 to sit one back going into Friday, and the two years before that, he sat in 9th and 17th place after round one, but was just four and two shots back respectively.

Hubbard has already co-led the RBC Heritage after round 1, a comp course I like, and just two starts ago he was 2nd after round 1 of the PGA Championship as well, opening with a 65.

I don't think he's going to threaten the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, but I do think he can get off to a fast start, which is all we are asking of him here.

Hubbard ranks 25th in Round 1 Scoring Average this season.

Matt Kuchar +12500 (bet365)

Matt Kuchar has been struggling for large parts of the 2024 season, but in his last two starts, he has finished 34th and 17th, and now he returns to an event he loves.

Kuchar sat 12th and 11th after round 1 of his two most recent starts, and with six top 10s in the Canadian Open, he'll be hoping for another quick start here.

One of the most experienced players in the field, Kuchar played in this event in both 2012 and 2019 and he sat 15th and 7th after round 1 respectivley.

The more I look at Kuchar, the more I see a player worth chancing, especially given his 4th place finish here in 2019 and his return to form, but I am going to stick with him in this market, as opposed to the outright.

Kuchar has been the first round leader 13 times in his career, including way back in 2014 when he led the way going into Friday of the RBC Heritage.

Chesson Hadley +15000 (bet365)

Chesson Hadley loves a fast start, in fact he's held six first round leads in his career, including his co-lead in this event 12 months ago.

Hadley recently opened the CJ Cup with a round of 64 to sit 2nd after day one. He went on to miss the cut that week, but on his next start, he closed out the Myrtle Beach Classic with three rounds of 67, which is a great sign.

5th at the Travelers and 7th at the Heritage, Hadley has played the comp courses I like, well, and he can go low for a second year in a row at the RBC Canadian Open!

Pierceson Coody +15000 (BetRivers)

This is a gut instinct, as I just think Pierceson Coody can go low at any point.

7th after round 1 of the Charles Schwab Challenge last week, Coody managed to stay inside the top 3 for the next two rounds as well. He finished 5th, and that was ecnouraging, as was his effort at the Corales where he finished 18th.

Article Author

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Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!

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